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A ‘system of light before being a figure of stone’: The phantasmagoric prison

A ‘system of light before being a figure of stone’: The phantasmagoric prison

Fiddler, Michael (2011) A ‘system of light before being a figure of stone’: The phantasmagoric prison. Crime Media Culture, 7 (1). pp. 83-97. ISSN 1741-6590 (Print), 1741-6604 (Online) (doi:10.1177/1741659010393811)

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Abstract

This article explores the uncanny interplay between folk and official readings of Victorian prison architecture. From building designs to cinematic depictions, the visual underpins any understanding of the prison. Using Bakhtin’s notion of heteroglossia, it will be shown how the visual elements of prison buildings, both physical and cinematic, obscure a ‘programmatic organisation of space’. As such, the prison is akin to a ‘phantasmagoria’. Both have visual elements that embrace and encourage an imaginative response, but that also mask a rational core. The term ‘Gothic(k)’ is developed here to describe those elements of the prison that constitute its ‘place-myth’. The prison no longer requires a physical apparatus to project its message or consolidate this place-myth. By drawing upon the Gothic(k) readings of the prison and the analogy of the phantasmagoria, we see how the prison has been fully rendered as a ‘system of light’.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] Published online: 3 May 2011. [2] Published in print: April 2011. [3] Published as: Crime Media Culture, (2011), Vol. 7, (1), pp. 83-97.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bakhtin, phantasmagoria, prison architecture, prison film, uncanny
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Law & Criminology
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:19
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/7554

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